Advice · Friendship

Parents Want You to Say Their Baby Is Cute

What am I supposed to say when I actually don’t think my friend’s new kid is cute?

Heh. As someone without a child, let me take just a moment to come clean: pretty much all babies look like old men to me. Some are absurdly cute, sure, but most of them, to me, look kind of nightmare-ish.

(Except yours, friend who is currently reading this. Yours is obviously cute.)

Regardless of that, everyone thinks their own child is cute. I’m pretty sure that makes the endless screaming / pooping / eating / barfing combo bearable during those early months. But here’s the thing: while your friend might prompt you with something like “how cute is little Blanket?”, no one is expecting you to rate your friends’ babies, beauty-pageant style.

“Timmy was a total 2 when he came out of the womb, but that Susie, she was definitely closer to a 6.”

If they do, I strongly suggest backing away slowly.

But that’s not super helpful because there is still some expectation that you will acknowledge that this new child is clearly the cutest human since ever. So here are some possible responses to the common parental phrases:

Friend “Isn’t he just the cutest?”
You “Oh man, look at that smile / giggle. What a happy baby!”

Friend “But seriously, isn’t he just the cutest?”
You “I have so many friends with babies that it wouldn’t be fair for me to pick just one as the cutest! They’re all adorable.”

I can see how you might take issue with this one, because isn’t adorable the same as cute? Au contraire (this site is so international)! Cute and adorable are not the same. While all babies look like old men to me (and sometimes are not so cute), they are also all inherently adorable if you really think about it. Here’s this tiny being that just giggles and squirms and cries and sleeps and eats. He’s living the dream! He gets to wear teeny clothing that only he and his tiny buddies can pull off.

That’s adorable. It’s science.

Friend “God, Maria’s baby is super not cute, am I right? I’m so lucky little Luis is cute. Isn’t he cute?”
You “They’re all babies! They’re all adorable!”

This is an easy trap to fall into, and I’d suggest that, with everyone except your absolute most trusted friend and/or partner, you should not acknowledge that a specific, individual baby is not cute, or worse, ugly. I mean, what’s the point, right? Can you imagine how silly it would be if the parent heard about it? “Why is Vanessa talking shit about a four-month-old?”

That said, if you do have that bestie that you’d enlist to help you bury a body, or if you have a partner that isn’t going to absent-mindedly say in a couple of years “oh yeah, we thought Bobby was hideous when he was born,” you can share those dark thoughts if you absolutely must. You’re still being a bit of a jerk, but at least you’re keeping it from seeping out into the world.

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